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Inflated Responses in Measures of Self-Assessed Health

By William H. Greene, Mark N. Harris and Bruce Hollingsworth

Abstract

This paper focuses on the self-reported responses given to survey questions of the form In general how would you rate your health? with typical response items being on a scale ranging from poor to excellent. Usually, the overwhelming majority of responses fall in either the middle category or the one immediately to the "right" of this (in the above example, good and very good). However, based on a wide range of other medical indicators, such favourable responses appear to paint an overly rosy picture of true health. The hypothesis here is that these "middle" responses have been, in some sense, inflated. That is, for whatever reason, a significant number of responders inaccurately report into these categories. We find a significant amount of inflation into these categories. Adjusted responses to these questions could lead to significant changes in policy, and should be reflected upon when analysing and interpreting these scales.

Topics: Self-assessed health, inflated outcomes, mis-reporting,, ordered probit, panel data
Year: 2014
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